Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

How to Turn Craftsmanship Into a Successful Career: Interview with Travis Weige

Have you ever wondered what it takes to turn craftmanship into a successful business? Travis Weige does.

How to Turn Craftsmanship Into a Successful Career: Interview with Travis Weige

Today, Travis joins us to share his fascinating story of leaving his six-figure career in software sales to build custom, handmade knives.

Before making custom knives, Travis spent 18 years in software sales, much of it flying to LA or NY from his home in Austin, Texas. One day he saw a video of a guy making knives, and was hooked by the idea.

Travis had always been good at making things by hand, and with the large garage that came with the house his family had just bought, adequate space was not an issue. The pieces all came together in his mind, so Travis tried out crafting knives.

Initially, his knives were just for friends and family, but one day a friend asked for a knife for his wife. She was a professional chef with a wealthy client list. During their consult, his friend opted to have his wife pick what she wanted her knife to look like, everything from the colors of the handle to the pins.

His friend’s wife came over and loved the concept. In fact, she loved it so much she told people about him. A month later a reporter from The Austin Chronicle stopped by to do an article on him.

Having worked as a journalist, Travis knew he would be better off having his friend take the photos for the article. The Chronicle agreed.

With the help of his photographer friend, they took photos of the various aspects and stages of the knife-making process. The Chronicle liked the photos so much they told Travis they were going to put him on the cover.

Within 48 hours of that issue going out to hundreds of thousands of subscribers, Travis had 400 emails and close to $50,000 in sales! Travis was ecstatic, but also nervous, so he called his friend to ask for help. After some cajoling, Travis’ friend joined him, and they’ve been working together ever since.

On this episode of The Portfolio Life, Travis also tells us how he manages a work/life balance, the different revenue streams for his business, and what practical advice he would offer an aspiring entrepreneur or craftsman.

Listen to the podcast

To listen to the show, click the player below (If you’re reading this via email, please click here).

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Show highlights

In this episode, Travis and I explore:

  • What other attempts did he make at having a business of his own?
  • When did he decide to give his notice and pursue knife-making full-time?
  • Did raising the prices of his knives lower sales?
  • What are you actually selling when you are in sales?
  • Why you must be willing to make mistakes.

Being an artist at heart

  • What was his first creative endeavor?
  • How did his previous skills help make his knife business so successful?
  • Why he wanted to be in charge of the vision and perception of his business.
  • What happens if you allow someone else to tell your story for you?
  • Do journalists ever want to write a negative story about someone?

On setting prices

  • How other knife-makers helped him.
  • How do you know if you are charging too much or too little?
  • Why you must know the exact pricing of your materials.
  • If you don’t respect your craft enough to charge a fair amount, what will happen?
  • The difference between a business that is a hobby and a business that is profitable.

Resources

What first step will you take to turn your art into a business? Let us know in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I am the best-selling author of five books, including the national bestsellers The Art of Work and Real Artists Don't Starve. Each week, I send out a free newsletter with my best tips on writing, publishing, and helping your creative work succeed.

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